Does anyone besides commissioners want West F’ville Bypass?

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I attended the town hall meeting at Christ’s Church [May 24]. This was designed to acquaint the citizens with and address questions to the Republican candidates running for Fayette County commissioner. All four candidates attended, and other attendees were told they would be given time to ask questions to the candidate of their choice.

In terms of questions asked, the West Fayetteville Bypass was the hottest issue. Candidate Steve Brown has written articles in opposition to the project for some time.

When asked why he opposed the WFB, candidate Allen McCarty said that under the original SPLOST plan, the WFB was not to have come about until the year 2020, yet it had been given priority over other more needed projects.

Commissioners Smith and Maxwell both said that the WFB was (compared to the East Fayetteville Bypass) “the best bang for the buck.” When asked what could be done with WFB earmarked funds if the project didn’t get built, Commissioner Maxwell said that the WFB SPLOST money could be transferred to or subdivided among other SPLOST projects.

For some time, citizens have been complaining about not knowing that they voted for the WFB. According to Commissioner Smith, it was not the current administration that kept the WFB off the face of the ballot, but the 2003 administration.

Both Maxwell and Smith said that the WFB would route traffic away from Fayetteville, thereby relieving congestion. Both commissioners have continuously been in favor of the project, and have not recently publicly addressed any criticism of the project. I gathered from their demeanor that they both believe that the majority of Fayette County citizens support the WFB.

But from the questions asked, that did not seem to be the case. People lined up asking question after question related to negative aspects of the WFB. One question that related to feasibility or traffic studies was directed to Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith said “all that was done in 1985.”

Another question involved the East Bypass being swept away from priority, and replaced by the WFB. Commissioner Maxwell pointed out that EFB crossed wetlands and a golf course, which made its cost prohibitive.

When asked about whether or not an alternative route for the EFB that might cost less, would not cross wetlands, and would overlay Corinth Road had been considered, Commissioner Smith said that he was not familiar with the specific alternative route suggested.

Upon further questioning, he finally said that the commissioners had considered all alternatives, but time was called by the moderator before he could explain.

All in all, the timing of the meeting left something to be desired with question time reduced to the point that many of the questions could not be fully asked or answered. But it became clear that, of the questions asked, those pertaining to the WFB outnumbered those that did not.

My complaint is that the commissioners work directly for the taxpayers. They have an obligation to recognize that the single most important issue to the taxpayers is the WFB.

WIth the WFB not yet built, they should level with the public and clearly illustrate why their determination to proceed with the project outweighs the wishes of their constituents.

What was done 15 years ago no longer applies. We are in a bad economy, and can’t afford to buy bang that we don’t need for millions and millions of dollars with the expectation that a two-lane road, even with a viable destination, could even begin to relieve more traffic congestion than it caused.

I would welcome any comments, especially some hard 2010 facts that support the project. It is time that the commissioners very clearly demonstrate that they realize the majority of the public is against the project. Has anyone seen an article in favor of the bypass that was written by a citizen?

Steve Smithfield

Fayette County, Ga.